THAT kdrama blog: Boys Over Flowers

Some of you may be watching this kdrama remake of a jdrama remake of a tdrama adaptation of an anime adaptation of a manga (OK it’s probably just an adaptation of the manga, but it’s way more fun to say that way). To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of the manga; I dropped it pretty quickly and only know the basic outline of the plot. The thing that made me watch this version is simple: my undying affection for Koo Hye Sun. Sure, Pure 19 was sweet and all, but it’s her wide range of absolutely adorable facial expressions that endears her to me. With visions of her in my mind, I plunged into the first episode of Boys Over Flowers.

What I found was a new kind of rage inside myself.

The show begins innocently enough, with Geum Jan Di, daughter of a dry cleaner, delivering laundry to the most elite escalator school in S Korea, Shinhwa School. At the same time she is on her way to deliver the clothes, a boy enrolled in the school is facing a brutal attack by the hands of several students, so severe, in fact, that he decides the only way to end the ridicule is to take his own life. Jan Di, realizing that this man, Lee Min Ha, is the designated recipient of the laundry, tries to get him to pay first, before jumping (lol). Min Ha tells her to bill it to his family, then jumps, but it a daring move, Jan Di manages to catch him before he can fall.

The whole scene is captured on camera and film by a crowd of student onlookers, and Jan Di quickly finds herself at the heart of a national debate on bullying in elite schools, and the powerful Shinhwa Corporation decides that the only way to save face in this is to offer her a spot in the prestigious school.

Reluctant at first, Jan Di decides to attend Shinhwa. Soon after her first day, she realizes that the boy she saved was being bullied by a group of students known as the Flower 4, or F4. Apparently, these boys are the sons of the richest and most powerful families in S Korea, and they practically run the school. If you get on their bad side, they can make life a living hell for you simply by placing a card with their symbol in your locker. The would-be jumper Min Ha found one of these in his locker that fateful day.

Sounds great, right? Off to a neat start, with lots of promise. Let me tell you what I hoped might happen:

Strong-willed Jan Di, who was brought up to respect others and herself, is the first person ever to stand up to the sadistic and sociopathic F4. Galled by her arrogance, the F4 sets to make her life just as miserable as every one else who crosses them. As it turns out, the leader of the F4 is none other than the son of the owner of the Shinhwa corporation, and he is every bit as cruel and soulless as you would imagine. Though hurt by their cruelty, Jan Di refuses to be embarrassed by what she sees as the fault of the F4. Feeling sorry for them, she decides that they should learn a lesson in humility.

During the first few weeks, while dealing with constant ridicule from the other students, she finds a friend in Min Ha, the man she saved from a suicide attempt. Her bravery led him to find it within himself to stand up to F4 himself, saving Jan Di from a brutal attack by a group of beautiful but sadistic girls in the locker room. Grateful and impressed, they begin a journey to teach the students of Shinhwa academy that it is personal integrity and kindness towards others that is the way to get ahead in life, not birthright and pettiness.

Through many adventures together in the school, a romance grows between our heroine and Min Ha, who as it turns out is the heir to a modest but substantial fortune that his parents made in the textile business, leading to a partnership between Jan Di’s father and Mr. Lee, wherein Mr. Guem becomes the president of the dry-cleaning branch of the Lee empire. Jan Di and Min Ha fall madly in love, and together they are ale to turn the student body against the F4, showing them for what they really are: spoilt, cruel, unhappy people. Some of the F4 are able to find redemption, but the worst one, ringleader heir of Shinhwa, so disgraces his family that the show ends with him taking his own life, just a few blocks from the wedding of Jan Di and Min Ha.

What really happens:

Jan Di does in fact attend Shinhwa Academy, and her independent attitude does draw the ire of the sadistic and cruel F4. However, Min Ha is nowhere to be found, and is replaced by a weak-willed girl who drops Jan Di like a bad habit at the first sign of trouble, even though just days before Jan Di stood up for her in front of F4. The things done to Jan Di are more than most people could bear, but her can-do attitude allows her to stay on top of her emotions and not give in to the F4.

Here’s where the problem comes.

F4 is known throughout the school, and they are seen doing such unreasonable things are: pouring juice on someone’s very expensive shirt with little or no provocation, slamming a cake in a girl’s face in from of the school for simply offering them a bite, and strong-arming students into licking their shoes when they are dirty. Jan Di knows all of this.

The first thing the students do to Jan Di once she is marked for unreasonable cruelty, under the demands of F4 of course, is steal her desk. Fair enough; even the horrible things they write on her desk when she finds it are ok with me as far as pranks go. Then, though, they hit her with a barrage of eggs and summarily douse her with flour. I felt it it my soul when she started crying, and I really have to give it up to Koo Hye Sun for her excellent performance during this scene. Afterward, she goes to her quiet happy place on the school grounds, a stairwell she has visited every time she needs to vent about the harsh treatment handed down to her by the F4.

Who should be there but one member of F4, the kindest member Yoon Ji Hoo. Remember now, this is the kindest out of the 4 pricks, so he’s like the Mussolini of the Axis powers. He so kindly gives his handkerchief to Jan Di and tells her not to worry about returning it. Now I know from knowledge of the plot that this becomes her first love interest, but I have to ask: why? Why does this man, who though admittedly attractive failed to stop the abuse Jan Di suffered, appeal to her as a potential mate? Where is my spunky and strong-willed heroine? Who replaced her with a cowering, timid coward?

To make matters worse, Ji Hoo participates in the fouling of the school swimming pool; one of the only reasons Jan Di wanted to come to school at Shinhwa was their excellent pool and her desire to swim again. After she single-handedly cleans the pool, she it attacked in the locker room by a group of boys. The 1st ep ends with the boys engaged in a full-on sexual assault that looks to be leading to rape.

I have no doubt that the second episode will begin with Ji Hoo stopping the rape from happening, and that their romance will begin there. What the fuck, women of the world? How could you ever harbor any emotion other than repulsion and hate for a member of a group that basically organized and condoned a gang-bang on your ass? I fail to see how any one member of the F4 can find redemption enough in the eyes of Jan Di to be worthy of her, and I think that the horrible things they have already done precludes them from any redemption in my own eyes, so I can never be happy with a conclusion that pairs my beloved Jan Di with the cruel and heartless leader of F4.

Unfortunately, it is that very conclusion towards which we are racing in this show, and I wait with bated breath for my next glimpse of Hye Sun, though her talent is wasted in this psychotic fantasy. I leave you with a gallery of the only redeeming part of this show: Hye Sun’s adorable, exaggerated facial expressions ^_^

Also, after a longer holiday than I had planned, I’m back ^_^;;

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24 Comments

  1. Posted January 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    lol? Kdrama? I’ve only seen the Tdrama and manga (all bloody 3X volumes).

  2. Kvakond
    Posted January 27, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I’d rather nail my balls to a grand piano and toss it off a bridge than watch this

  3. boatswain
    Posted January 27, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly enough, I’ve just finished marathoning both seasons of the Japanese live-action adaptation of Hana Yori Dango and like you, I was similarly disappointed. In both seasons the leader of F4, Domyouji in the japanese adaptation, starts off as a complete and utter ass — violent, bullying, coordinating a near rape — yet he is also the main love interest. Arguably, Domyouji shows endearing personality traits later (for one, a complete and utter disregard for proper usages of the japanese language) but still, his violent and rude personality that is “cured” by the end of season 1 yet magically resurfaces at the beginning of season 2 for me, fails all attempts at redemption. Rui, the first love interest, also bothers me as well, and though he does “save” the main girl, Makino, from many bullying scenes, he is still guilty by association, being one of the F4 yet doing very little to stop the whole red notice process in general despite being “the nice guy.” As the series progresses, Rui’s calm and kind demeanor foils Domyouji’s easily angered one — and I cannot even begin to comprehend how Makino, between the savior from the bullying and the cause of it, would choose the latter.

  4. Adi
    Posted January 27, 2009 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, I’m not interested in dramas, but it makes me furious to see them showing shows like this in HiDef and if i think about Europe, forget it, the last time something was in HiDef on freeTV it was the European Championship in Football, this is so unfair

  5. Haruko
    Posted January 27, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    I’ve followed Hana Yori Dango quite closely from the manga to anime to tdrama to jdrama and so I decided to watch this as well. I feel that it isn’t the best adaptation(well maybe my view will change when the whole series is over); I prefer the taiwan adaptation much more.

    I think Rui didn’t do much to stop the bullying because he didn’t have much power to do so, haha look at how dominating and aggressive Domyouji is. He’d obviously be punched out of his wits by Domyouji if he tries to go against him, and I bet the other two members of F4 (Soujirou and Akira) wouldn’t be able to stop him as well.

  6. olivia
    Posted January 27, 2009 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Tsukushi Makino is out of character – Jan Di is headstrong, yes – but she’s way too retarded – didn’t Makino get in because of a scholarship? Having Jan Di get into a prestigious school due to her irrational personality kind of defeats the main theme of the story. Actually, Jan Di is not headstrong enough – she retaliates more with her facial expressions than with an intelligent wit, which the character is supposed to have. It also seems that she just arbitrarily becomes more submissive to Domyouji in mid-episode…

    but then again, this IS the Korean version…

  7. Sydney
    Posted January 28, 2009 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    olivia… Different versions have their own takes, let’s remember… I’ve been following the Korean version and it’s already different from the original. The producers said they were putting their own spin on the series and if you actually watch it it’s obvious.
    At this point I still prefer the Japanese one though. I haven’t seen the T version but I hope to.. maybe lol
    jiff.. it’s funny you like hye sun because the number one complaint had been that people were annoyed with her facial expressions lol. but ive grown to like her :)
    and i was puzzled with minha too.. he just disappeared lol. supposedly theyre bringing him back (the actor) to play junpei’s role later..

  8. Posted January 28, 2009 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    this post reminds me why I hate Hana Yori Dango. At least in the anime version, Maiko was a strong character here she just looks weak. And does anyone thinks that her hair style kind of looks like Nodame?

  9. Posted January 28, 2009 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing!!!

    regards,
    Anime

  10. blissmo
    Posted January 28, 2009 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    After reading through the article did I realize I’ve already seen the Japanese version of this drama (Hana Yori Dango). From what you were hoping would happen, it sounds totally different from what I’ve seen in the JDrama, but I’ve never read the manga either. Anyway, I guess the girl goes for the nice F4 guy because he seems to be the only asshole showing kindness to her and not others, which makes her feel special? And then she ends up going for the complete jackass because she finds that she will be the only woman able to stand up to him, therefore … blah, I’ve no idea, honestly. I know I like cold-hearted anime characters but in real life I’d hate their guts and we’d never get along. The girl’s expressions reminds of Nodame~

  11. Posted January 28, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    @Vin-nii

    The kdrama just started airing in January, but it’s more than halfway done already; they are airing like 2 eps a week

    @Kvakond

    I felt like that several times throughout the first episode, but just look at how cute Hye Sun is!

    @boatswain

    I passed on all other versions of this show mainly because of the outlandish plot; girls seem to dig this series so I guess there is something lost in translation to my gender.

    @Adi

    When I think of an epicenter of technology, I think Korea and Japan. You know what I don’t think of? Belgium and the Netherlands :

    @Haruko

    Stopping him is not the point, simply standing up to him and showing him that that’s not the type of person they want to associate with is enough. Things would be different if it was just one particularly arrogant prick, instead of the most famous and popular 4 pricks

    @olivia

    Not having seen the other versions I can’t comment on a comparison, but I agree that Jan Di seemed a bit retarded. I guess “heart” rather than rapier wit will be her weapon, though honestly I can see her attitude in the kversion leaning more towards wanting to change a man; a girl with a sharper wit, sharper tongue, and more prospects after school would, IMHO, be more likely to take a rival down than marry him

    @Sydney

    They should have put my spin on it if they were going to differ vastly from the source materiel, I shall have to learn korean and send a strongly worded letter to the writers of the show. And Korea must be filled with cold bastards because Hye Sun makes me just melt!

    @Elvadrieng

    I’m usually not a fan of bangs, especially ones that completely hide the forehead, but it works well for her

    @Anime

    funny name

    @blissmo

    I like the cold-hearted characters as well, but the F4 aren’t cold in the way that they just need a warm heart to rouse them, they are cold in a soulless, eternal way. Jan Di could do with a dose of cold as well, toughen her up a bit. As much as the first episode angered me, and as much as I know it will continue to do so, I’m going to keep watching this to see if I can get something positive out of it

  12. madlax
    Posted January 28, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Hey, so I’ve read the manga ugh one of the reasons why I’m skeptical about shojo and I’ve seen the taiwanese adaptation which imo was pretty good for an asian drama not set in feudal china. So how would you compare this to the tawainese? Also what is that korean drama where the girl is the adpoted sister of the dude, and once they finally get together she ends up having leukemia. And the doctor completely butchers the pronunciation of luekemia

  13. Posted January 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    WTF, not again. I’m sure the local networks in my country would be waiting to get a grab for this, to ensure more ratings.

  14. blissmo
    Posted January 28, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    @jiff: I remember that I hated F4 in the JDrama too but then when we got to know the characters better, they weren’t so bad after all. Like I was watching Desperate Housewives the other day and then they explained why the “villain” was doing all the bad shit, and then I started to not really hate him any more because it’s understandable why he’s doing yadaya. Same goes for F4 I suppose :P

  15. Posted January 28, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I just realized how weird looking the middle dude’s haircut is.

  16. Yukari Kai
    Posted January 29, 2009 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    So Asia just about exhausted the plot line of Hana Yori Dango. I wonder what a Hollywood remake would look like? Oh, maybe forget that. Still out of all the drama adaptations, I prefer the Japanese one so far. I feel the essence of the manga more and makes it authentic to me, plus the cast was great. The Taiwanese version just about bled my ears with “Broken Vow”.

  17. linda
    Posted February 28, 2009 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    to olivia:
    korean pride!
    don’t be hating.

  18. mabb
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    just watch the korean ep 17…not looking forward to the other episodes. Too many missing pieces and too many misunderstanding.. getting boring

  19. mabb
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    very disappointed to see the way the show is going.

  20. Posted June 3, 2009 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    Flowers to be the most Important Part of every occasion used for Marriages, death day, for prayers and also for birthday Parties. So, want to buy flowers you will get every year, every month, every day, every Minute at huge discounts only at kkeflowers.in.

  21. Posted June 15, 2009 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    very interesting story specially the character were so cute.super cute
    we really love these movie here in Philippines…
    hope they visit our beautiful country.

  22. Posted July 27, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    It is not bad. The acting ad general storyline is good. Just that sometimes to capture and maintain audience’s interest, some sacrifices are made. but overall dramatization is good.

  23. Posted September 26, 2011 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    amooooooooooo este dorama es el mejor amooooooooooooooooooooo a los F4 son los mas lindos de korea los amooooooooooooooooo…

  24. mayra
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    The “Boys Over Flowers” drama is one of my favorite korean drama of all time . i love Geum Jan Di fighting spirt. My faorite male charicter is Yoon Ji Hoo. i love the plot’s twist and turns . I would love to see anothere season . I loved the korean version so much i when ahead and watch the japanes version. I recomend this drama to anyone who enjoys a love store drama .

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